Archbishop Spalding’s aggressive aerial assault downs No. 3 Calvert Hall in MIAA A Conference football opener

Washington eclipses the 1,000-yard passing mark for the season while throwing for three scores and running for another TD in against defending league champs

Published on: September 24, 2022 12:07 AM EDT|Updated on: September 26, 2022 11:28 AM EDT

Malik Washington

Archbishop Spalding football coach Kyle Schmitt is not typically a pass-happy guy, he seems to be turning into one.

The former University of Maryland offensive lineman has good reason to want his team to take flight, considering that his promising quarterback Malik Washington, a gunslinger with a rifle arm, pinpoint accuracy and feathery deep ball, has already accounted for more than 1,000 yards through the air this season for the No. 2 Cavaliers.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound sophomore, a forward on Spalding’s basketball team, torched third-ranked Calvert Hall’s secondary for three touchdowns while running for another score in a thorough 42-7 walloping of the host Cardinals in Towson on Friday afternoon in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference opener for both teams.

It was the fourth straight victory for the No. 2 Cavaliers (4-1 overall, 1-0 MIAA A) and dropped the Cardinals record to 2-3, 0-1.

As usual, Washington’s main target was lanky senior wide-out Maxwell Moss, who was coming off a 196-yard, eight-catch, four-touchdown performance in an impressive 41-21 over Gonzaga (D.C.) of the powerful Washington Catholic Athletic Conference last week.

He caught two more TD passes on Friday, despite loads of attention being paid to him by Calvert Hall defensive backs.

To be sure, Washington had plenty of other targets at his disposal — and he was not shy in using them.

”They were playing two-high,” Washington said about an alignment that positioned a pair of defenders to shadow Moss. “We took advantage because we have a lot of people who can make plays.”

Freshman Aaron Igwebe came through with a bag catch for 29 yards to help sustain a drive that was ultimately aided by two penalties before Moss scored on an 11-yard toss late in the first half.

That invasion came in response to Calvert Hall’s only scoring drive, a 10-play sequence capped off by senior quarterback Noah Brannock’s 16-yard lob to senior wide-out Donnie Lewis with six minutes and eight seconds left in the first half to cut Spalding’s 14-0 lead — on a pair of first-quarter runs by senior Hakim Simms — in half.

The Cardinals appeared to be gaining some momentum until Igwebe exploited an opening in the middle of the field to move the ball into enemy territory.

”They were trying to take away Max,” Washington said. “That play really sparked us.”

The penalties, one for roughing the passer and another for pass interference, helped the Cavs’ cause.

”We are killing ourselves right now and we aren’t playing as a team,” Calvert Hall coach Josh Ward said. “Until we figure that out, the same results are going to happen. Last year was last year, and we need to figure ourselves out fast.”

Paul Poknis celebrates his third quarter touchdown reception with teammate Liam McNemar, during Archbishop Spalding's 42-7 thumping of Calvert Hall, Friday.

When the Cavaliers’ defense produced a three-and-out to open the third quarter, the offense struck again after a shanked punt gave Spalding a short field at the Cardinals’ 35-yard line.

Six plays later, Washington’s 5-yard jump-pass to senior Paul Poknis pumped the lead to 27-7 with 8:27 left in the third period.

A sack by Spalding senior Damien Wilburn helped to crumple Calvert Hall’s next possession and Poknis’s interception and 37-yard return ruined another.

It took the Cavaliers only six plays to cash in after Poknis’ swipe on a 1-yard Washington plunge to make it a 35-7 cushion.

”The real story of the game was our defense in the second half,” Schmitt said, noting that Poknis and juniors Keyshawn Flowers and Tyler Brown led the way.

Washington gave credit to his offensive line — senior Dillon Jones, juniors Jason Shippman, Liam Lynch, Caiden Leonard and Arron Volz — for giving him time to pick apart Calvert Hall’s defense.

”Without those guys, I couldn’t get anything done,” he said, They are always doing their job.”

NO. 2 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 42, NO. 3 CALVERT HALL 7

AS 14 7 14 7 — 42

CHC 0 7 0 0 — 7

First quarter

Spalding - Hakim Simms 20 run (Patrick Claborn kick)

Spalding - Simms 2 run (Claborn kick)

Second quarter

Calvert Hall - Donnie Lewis 16 pass from Noah Brannock (Dylan Manna Kick)

Spalding - Maxwell Moss 11 pass from Malik Washington (Claborn kick)

Third quarter

Spalding - Paul Poknis 5 pass from Washington (kick blocked)

Spalding - Washington 1 run (Hakim Simms run)

Fourth quarter

Spalding - Moss 20 pass from Malik Washington (Patrick Claborn kick)